Peugeot 308 review

The all-new Peugeot 308 goes big on hybrid.

Pros: interior design, refinement

Cons: smaller boot in hybrid, no electric version yet

With an all-new design that includes plug-in hybrids, and in time a fully electric version, the Peugeot 308 marks itself out as a future-proofed hatchback that is now more upmarket than ever before. A stylish interior contains more passenger space than its predecessor and has all the latest technology you might expect to find in a modern hatchback.

Peugeot 308 Design

The new 308 is only 11mm longer than its predecessor but its wheelbase is 55mm longer, benefitting passenger space. The car is also 20mm lower and has a longer bonnet to enhance its overall design.

The 308’s look has noticeably evolved from the model it replaces and carries a contemporary design featuring sharper lines and a ‘face’ that is highlighted by the vertical daytime running lights that are fang-like in appearance. Tauter sheet metal and the aforementioned shifts in proportions will make the 308 seem more attractive to some buyers.

Slimmer headlights come with matrix technology on higher-grade models that provides dynamic high-beam illumination without dazzling other road users. As on its other more recently launched models, Peugeot has added the model badging to the nose of the car. Furthermore, it is the first vehicle to bear the company’s new emblem on the grille, and on higher-grade models as a shield on the sides of the front wings.

Peugeot 308 Interior

Just as the exterior has gained an extra helping of style, so too has the interior and it's here where you can more easily notice how the French brand is moving closer towards the premium end of the segment. Nicer quality materials and an evolution of Peugeot’s signature ‘i-Cockpit’ layout are enough to raise eyebrows when you first sit in.

A 10-inch digital instrument display is positioned in a way so that you look at it over, rather than through, the petite steering wheel. The new graphical interface allows for a variety of displays and on range-topping GT versions the instruments gain a 3D appearance.

The infotainment receives a boost with an improved 10-inch touchscreen, and on certain models this is supplemented by a touch bar extension that reconfigures its layout of shortcuts and widgets according to function. Voice control, smartphone mirroring and a range of connected services are also available.

It’s quite easy to find a comfortable driving position, while people in the rear will welcome the boost in legroom that the longer wheelbase provides, although a reduction in overall height can be felt from the back seats.

Boot space measures 412 litres, with 28 litres of additional storage hidden beneath the boot floor, and the maximum cargo volume is 1,323 litres with the rear seats folded. That boot space decreases to 361 litres (and 1,271 litres) in the plug-in hybrid versions due to the positioning of the battery.

Peugeot 308 Performance & Drive

Peugeot will offer the 308 with a range of engine options. The 1.2-litre PureTech 130 petrol engine is characterful and has plenty of go for its size, putting in a solid performance when mated to the eight-speed automatic gearbox in particular. There is a 1.5-litre diesel that is capable of meagre consumption over longer distances and is well-suited to the 308 SW estate.

We’ll have to wait another couple of years until the fully electric 308 debuts, but in the interim Peugeot offers two plug-in hybrid variants. Both use a 12.4kWh battery with an 81kW electric motor that is paired with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The latter comes in two guises, a 150hp tune badged as the Hybrid 180 e-EAT8 and a 180hp version that’s called the Hybrid 225 e-EAT8. The names refer to the combined maximum power outputs of the hybrid systems.

Peugeot says that the 308 can travel up to 60 kilometres on a single charge without the petrol engine activating, which should be sufficient for many daily commutes. It is whisper-quiet on the move with remarkably little road and wind noise permeating the cabin. Not only does this make it more pleasant to travel in but it also highlights how well-made the interior is. The power delivery is expectedly smooth and even the petrol engine is smooth so long as you’re prudent with throttle inputs.

The hybrids are around 349kg heavier than the pure combustion engine 308s, but that extra mass is well hidden on the move, maintaining a good level of comfort and dynamic ability at speed.

With the diesel engine the experience isn’t quite as silent, and the manual gearbox isn’t as slick as we’d like. The engine is long-legged and cruises comfortably at motorway speeds, however. The petrol variant is ideal for urban driving and its engine is more willing than its cubic capacity would suggest.

Peugeot 308 Pricing

As the Peugeot 308 won’t be arriving in Ireland until 2022 the pricing and specifications are still in the process of being finalised. Given the noticeable shift upmarket in the 308’s design and quality, we expect that it will see a small price increase over the outgoing model’s €23,000 starting price. 

Carzone Verdict: 4/5

With this new design Peugeot has created a 308 that has a more striking appearance with an interior that ranks among the best in the class. But it’s how it drives and the refinement that it delivers on the move that makes it a true contender for segment honours.

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